Hamleys, a UK-based toy retailer, is close to finalizing a deal for a 30,000-square-foot store at Herald Square in New York City, according to CNBC. The location would open in 2020 and could be followed by additional stores in certain malls and cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Hamleys stores are known for their emphasis on experiential retailing, letting kids play with life-size Legos and having associates dressed up as fictional characters to entertain customers. The retailer currently has locations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Mexico.
FAO Schwarz has reopened its own store at Rockefeller Center, which would put Hamleys in direct competition with another venerable toy merchant. The two retailers will compete on experience as well: the FAO Schwarz revival includes product demonstrators, magicians and employees dressed as characters.
Many retailers are working to replace Toys ‘R’ Us across the U.S., and could offer more competition should Hamleys choose to expand:
- Walmart expanded its collection of toys by 30% in-store and 40% online;
- Target increased its own toy selection by 2,500 products;
- Party City launched 50 Toy City pop-ups alongside Halloween City stores;
- Michaels has rebranded its children’s selection in-store and launched a dedicated site; and
- Toys ‘R’ Us itself has found new life as Geoffrey’s Toybox, a store-within-a-store concept at Kroger.
The Hole Left By Toys ‘R’ Us Is Not Yet Filled
2018 marks the first modern holiday season without Toys ‘R’ Us, and other retailers have been taking advantage of the opportunity. A number of retailers grabbed some of the market share left behind on Thanksgiving weekend by attracting former Toys ‘R’ Us shoppers to their stores, according to Gordon Haskett and Alpha Hat:
However, 59% of 2017 Toys ‘R’ Us Thanksgiving weekend shoppers simply didn’t make any brick-and-mortar purchases this year, according to Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom. The remaining players will have to compete to see if they can capture that missing share in 2019.